I’m in Las Vegas for SHOT Show, where gun control supporters are already whining about what they won’t see here… so-called “smart guns.”
Though you could’ve seen just about any kind of consumer technology at this year’s CES trade show in Las Vegas, there was one thing you’d have been hard-pressed to find.
Among the 3,631 exhibitors hawking smart cars and drones, not to mention alarm clocks that emit smells, this month’s extravaganza included just one presenter showing off smart-gun technology, according to the show’s organizers. And the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, hasn’t discussed encouraging more smart guns at future shows.
At the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, which starts Tuesday in Vegas, it’s a similar story.
Smart-gun tech will almost entirely be absent from the list of the 1,600 exhibitors at the self-billed “largest and most comprehensive” annual gun show.
“There might be some people talking about it, but nothing that comes to my attention indicates there will be any such authorized-user technology demonstrations,” said Mike Bazinet, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which runs the SHOT Show.
That’s how far smart guns — which use radio signals or fingerprint scanners to ensure a weapon can be fired only by its owner — are from the mainstream. They’re a no-show at both these major conferences, and they’re apparently not much of a topic of conversation among those who might be most interested.
It’s not as though the broader public hasn’t had guns on the mind. The past year brought a number of high-profile mass shootings, in San Bernardino, California; Charleston, South Carolina; and Roseburg, Oregon, which prompted stirring calls for some sort of response, be it political or technological.President Barack Obama has called for more research into smart-gun technology, helping highlight the handful of small players developing these products.
Proponents say such weapons could cut down on stolen guns, gun accidents and school shootings. But many gun enthusiasts are steadfast against the technology.
“It’s not just a question of lack of demand,” said Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor who focuses on the Second Amendment and gun control. “There’s very strong opposition to smart-gun tech in the gun world.”
There are two primary reasons that gun owners are resistant to so-called smart guns.
The first is one of practicality. Adding unproven technologies to systems that require 100% reliability and split-second decisions is fraught with peril. Despite 60 years of trying, no smart gun technology has proven to be remotely reliable, and the “best of the best” of the current generation of smart gun technology, the Aramtix iP1/iW1 combo, fails more than 50% of the time and can still be taken away and used against its owner.
The other issue is one of trust. Technology can be hacked or created by design to be disabled remotely. That’s a major concern of gun owners who don’t want to be disarmed by a tyrannical government doing something as simple as flipping a switch.
The simple fact of the matter is that gun owners don’t want smart guns, only gun control supporters do.
As long as that is the case, the market will never take off.